Causes of Sleep Apnea

General & Cosmetic Dentist serving Hoboken, Jersey City & Hudson County areas of New Jersey


Sleep apnea is more than a serious condition–it can be life-threatening. People with sleep apnea are at increased risk for death from heart attack, stroke, even car accidents. If you have sleep apnea, it’s important to get treated, but the best treatment depends on the cause of your sleep apnea. There are two types of sleep apnea–obstructive and central–with different causes and often different treatments.

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of the condition. It is caused when your airway collapses at night due to muscle relaxation, weight, and anatomy. Obstructive sleep apnea is most common in overweight men aged 50 or older, but it can impact people of all ages, including people with normal weight.

There are many options for obstructive sleep apnea treatment, including CPAP–a forced air pressure pump and mask that you wear at night. This is successful when people comply with treatment, but only about a third do, with the rest complaining of discomfort and inconvenience. Obstructive sleep apnea can also be treated using an oral appliance, like a mouthguard, which you put in before going to bed. This oral appliance repositions your jaw and other tissues to keep your airway open at night. Oral appliance therapy is also very effective for people with mild to moderate sleep apnea, treats snoring, and has a high satisfaction rate. Some people with obstructive sleep apnea may even see good results from simple lifestyle changes.

Central sleep apnea is less common. In central sleep apnea, your brain stops sending the signal for breathing to your body. Currently, central sleep apnea is treatable only with CPAP, but other methods are in development.

If you know or suspect you have sleep apnea, getting treatment is crucial to preserving your health and your life. To learn more about sleep apnea causes and treatment, please contact Frank R. DePaola DDS & Associates, LLC in Hoboken today for a consultation.